The News-Times

Court won’t stop Texas abortion ban, but lets clinics sue


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday left in place Texas’ ban on most abortions, offering only a glimmer of daylight for clinics in the state to challenge the nation’s most restrictiv­e abortion law.

The decision, little more than a week after the court signaled it would roll back abortion rights and possibly overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, was greeted with dismay by abortion rights supporters but praise by opponents.

Five conservati­ve justices, including three appointed by former President Donald Trump, formed a majority to limit who can be sued by the clinics, a result that both sides said probably will prevent federal courts from effectivel­y blocking the law.

Texas licensing officials may be sued, but not state court judges, court clerks or state

Attorney General Ken Paxton, the court ruled. That seems to leave people free, under the unusual structure of the Texas law, to sue abortion clinics and anyone else who “aids or abets” an abortion performed after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo, around six weeks and before some women know they’re pregnant.

“The Supreme Court has essentiall­y greenlit Texas’s cynical scheme and prevented federal courts from blocking an unconstitu­tional law,“the Center for Reproducti­ve Rights, which represents the Texas clinics, said on Twitter.

The court acted more than a month after hearing arguments over the law, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The law has been in place for about three months, since Sept. 1. The Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide has stood since 1973.

Abortion providers will now attempt to run the same legal gantlet that has previously frustrated them. The federal judge who already has once blocked the law, known as S.B. 8, almost certainly will be asked to do so again. Then his decision would be reviewed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has twice voted to allow enforcemen­t of the abortion ban.

“The Court should have put an end to this madness months ago, before S. B. 8 first went into effect. It failed to do so then, and it fails again today,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a separate opinion Friday.

The court’s conservati­ve majority also seems likely to roll back abortion rights in a Mississipp­i case that was argued last week, although that decision is not expected until spring.

Friday’s high court ruling came a day after a state court judge in Texas ruled that the law’s enforcemen­t, which rewards lawsuits against violators by awarding judgments of $10,000, is unconstitu­tional yet left the law in place.

Connecticu­t Attorney General Tong had joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general urging the court to block the ban from going into effect and to allow challenges to the ban to proceed.

“The Texas abortion ban is a dangerous violation of the wellestabl­ished right of individual­s to make private healthcare decisions free from political interferen­ce. The Supreme Court’s refusal to stay this clearly unconstitu­tional attack on women and patients is deeply disappoint­ing. It is however a small silver lining that the court has allowed a narrow set of challenges to this law to proceed, and I will join attorneys general across the nation in supporting that critical fight at the trial court level,” Tong said.

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